60th Anniversary of the Foundation of St James Society
ABU GOSH – On Saturday September 26th, 2015, faithful from different kehillot of Israel met at Notre Dame Monastery of the Ark of Covenant, on the hills of Abu Gosh, to celebrate altogether Thanksgiving Mass for 60 years of founding the Foundation of St James.
It was in an atmosphere of joy and delight that all Hebrew-speaking Christian communities met on Saturday. Faithful came by bus from all four corners of the country: Jaffa, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Haifa, or Tiberias, to show their gratitude.
Singing in Hebrew, the celebration was presided by the Apostolic Nuncio in Israel and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Msgr Giuseppe Lazzarotto. He was aided by His Excellency Msgr Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Msgr Kamal Hanna Bathish, Emeritus Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem, as well as by Fr. David Neuhaus, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics of the Holy Land.
The mass started with a reading of Pope Francis’s wishes, conveyed by Cardinal Parolin. The Pope sent his prayers to members of St. James Vicariate, so that they “will be renewed in your happy witness of the Bible, “not only by words but first and foremost by lives transfigured by the presence of Christ” (Evangelii Gaudium, 259). Thus not only the community of the Vicariate will be strengthened, but will perhaps become a tool of dialogue and more effective peace within the society, serving as a sign of Christ’s love for the more needy”.
In his homily the Nuncio sent a strong greeting to this “solid community”, able to stand in the face of challenges surrounding the Church of the Holy Land. He urged the kehillot to serve as bridges between Jews and Christians, repeating the call to “Disciples of Christ – whether Hebrew-speaking or Arabic-speaking to show that justice, peace and reality are still possible in our country”, as Fr Neuhaus wrote in his Pastoral Letter.
At the conclusion of the Mass, a film produced by Christian Media Center was shown: it sketches the history of the birth and development of St James Society, then of St. James Vicariate within the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
St. James Society was founded in 1954 after the creation of the State of Israel: Christians lived then within a Jewish majority, something which had never happened since the early stages of Christianity. They yearned to seek the urge of the early Christian communities of Jerusalem. From there on, Christians living within a Jewish sphere (Christians members of Jewish families, “rightful among the nations” … started to gather to celebrate mass altogether. The vocation of St. James Society consisted since then to develop Catholic communities, to work for the full integration of Jews becoming Catholics in the Church and inside the Israeli society, to motivate the Church back to its ancient Jewish roots and to fight anti-Semitism under all its aspects.
Kehillot stand also for a center of learning in favor of Christian children sprouting from immigration whether from Asia, Africa or South America, who follow catechism in Hebrew and participate in various activities organized within communities. As evidence, kehilla children of Jerusalem suggested a performance before closing up this great feast day for St. James Vicariate and the Church of the Holy land.
Calixte des Lauriers